Tag Archives: OddBox

“I didn’t get accepted into any of the universities that I…

tumblr_p2kzu5MM6H1qggwnvo1_500.jpg

“I didn’t get accepted into any of the universities that I wanted, and I ended up going to a lesser quality school. I hated being there. On the first day, I thought about buying a plane ticket and going home. I felt like I had nothing in common with the people around me. I felt like they belonged and I didn’t. My plan was just to survive– get through six lectures a day, keep to myself, and get back to my dorm room as soon as possible. I didn’t even talk to my own roommate. I’m ashamed of it now. I was so rude and self-centered, and it ended up making me lonely and miserable. I felt depressed. I was barely sleeping. Then one night I overheard my roommate talking on the phone with her mother. And I could tell she was having family problems. After she hung up, we stayed up all night talking. I told her that I was having a hard time too. She became my best friend after that night. We’d have dinner together. Whenever I left the room, she’d ask me where I was going. It felt so good to have someone worry about me. It’s been an important six months for me. I’ve realized how much I need other people. By not valuing the people around me, I was only hurting myself.”

(Mumbai, India)

Lebanon Bans Steven Spielberg’s “The Post” Because Of His Support of Israel, Proving The Country Is Run By Stone Age Airheads

At the rate Lebanon’s censorship bureau has been going for the past year, the country might as well have rang in 1918 instead of 2018, because the situation has become unacceptable.

The latest victim of a censorship bureau that doesn’t want to upset what’s becoming a form of cultural terrorism in the country is Steven Spielberg’s “The Post,” a stunning drama that is absolutely VITAL to be seen today.

The reason why Lebanon has an issue with Spielberg is both anti-semitic and because of the country’s anti-Israel laws. When Spielberg’s Tintin was released, his name was struck out from the poster in order to upset anyone due to his last name’s obvious Jewish background. His name was eventually added to the blacklist of the Arab League’s Central Boycott (of Israel) Office because of a donation he made to the Zionist state in 2006.

Yes, Spielberg making donations to Israel is abhorrent, but he’s not the only Hollywood figure to do so, nor will he be the last. When and where do we draw the ridiculous line about what we ban and allow in this country when it pertains to Israel, because this sure as hell is pushing it. An American director, with no ties to the country in question except for his religion, makes a contribution to the country like thousands of other Westerners and Americans do, and he’s suddenly persona non-grata?

To make matters worse, the decision to add Spielberg to that Arab ban list occurred in 2007. He’s had countless movies released in the area since, without any form of controversy. He has been director and producer of many movies that were released without a glitch in the area. Of those movies, I list: Transformers, The BFG, Bridge of Spies, Jurrasic World, Lincoln, etc…

Over the past 10 years, Lebanon has screened SIXTEEN movies in which Spielberg was either directing or producing. And here comes 2018, with Lebanon’s BDS office finding new muscle in our government, and the country won’t be able to get any of his movies ever again.

I would call such a ban illogical, but those calling for him to be blanket banned don’t really understand logic. They are the same people who believe Gal Gadot’s existence in a movie is a covert attempt at spreading zionism into the subconscious of the Arab masses, except in Gal Gadot’s case the argument was that she was actually Israeli, whereas in Spielberg’s case, the affront is an association to the n’th degree, just to appease to some people’s hypersensitivity, but I digress.

Being in the United States, I had the pleasure to watch “The Post” in its opening weekend a few days ago. The movie, set in the 1970s, features legends Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks as the owner and editor of the Washington Post at that time, respectively, as they try to reveal government secrets about the Vietnam War, during Nixon’s White House, as he attempts to silence the press.

The movie, based on a true story, is exceedingly important in today’s day and age where freedom of speech, the press, and the important of expression are all threatened. The irony of a movie about fighting off censorship being censored in a country that is developing a knee-jerk response to anything that ruffles its feathers should not escape you.

What we have in Lebanon is a bunch of airheads in power, whose brains only function in binaries, and who can’t appreciate enough nuances to be able to distinguish between cause to ban (which should never exist, but it’s Lebanon) and not. Instead, The Post is the second movie to be banned this week after Daniel Radcliffe’s “Jungle” also receives the same fate, when it’s discovered that the screenwriter, and some of the people involved in the making of the movie are Israelis.

To expect any movie coming in from the U.S. to be Israel-free is non-sensical. To expect any media import that we get from the big bad West to be Israel free is stupid. What’s next, banning everything that breathes because of a positive opinion they have of the Jewish state? I’m willing to bet those calling for the movie to be banned have watched countless Steven Spielberg movies before.

I expect this bullshit we’re dealing with not to decrease over the next few months, but to further perpetuate like the rabid fire it’s becoming. The next Nathalie Portman movie? Forget about it. Anything featuring Gal Gadot? Forget about that either. Any Steven Spielberg movie coming up after The Post? Nope. It’s just sad.

Again, I reiterate what I’ve said countless times before. Boycotts are not bans. Boycotts add to whatever message the BDS folks want to propagate in the country, whilst bans do the exact opposite. With every single movie they cause to be banned, they lose more people who’d be willing to support them. But I guess they don’t really care about that, either.

The hypocrisy of banning movies in Lebanon because they’re an easy target should not escape anyone. There are products distributed in the market, and imprinted in everyone’s personal life, that are also related in one way or another to Israel, but BDS’ dependency on such products will never have them call for bans.

The lines that movies can’t cross in this country are increasing by the day. “Call Me By Your Name,” the year’s best movie, won’t be released because of its LGBT theme. Movies are banned because Israel. Movies are banned because they upset Christian or Muslim clergy. At this rate, there’s no point in cinema in this country anymore.

Until then, enjoy streaming the movie online or buying it for $2 at your local bootleg DVD store. The biggest loser in all of this bullshit is that Lebanese distributor, in this case Italia Films, that already bought the rights for the movie and will be losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, as did Joseph Chacra with Wonder Woman, just because we have easily-influenced entities in offices of power, without any ounce of backbone whatsoever.

The Little Things in Life Are the Biggest Ones.

{source}

 

“Enjoy the little things in life because one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

2017. My grandma died. I got the flu and couldn’t walk properly for two months. I spent a good three months feeling paranoid I had breast cancer before finally getting checked out and discovering it was nothing. My partner and I argued. I yelled at my kids. I cried. I swore. I felt disappointed. I felt useless. I felt aimless. I felt insufficient. I felt like a failure.

It would be easy for me to throw last year on the scrap pile of years that sucked if I hadn’t done this one powerful thing: I spent a day going back through my journal, collating a list of highlights.

I rediscovered so many great things that had already started to fade towards forgotten: my travels far and wide, fun business projects, and special times with special people.

But the most wonderful things were the little things:

Handmade cards, road trips, horse-riding with Dad, jam-making with Mum, a last visit with Nana, coffee dates, swimming in the ocean, bike-riding, picnics, dinner at the local pizza joint, flowers, visits from old friends, foot massages, picking wild blackberries with my sis, thunderstorms, seeing the Pixies live, movies and mixed lollies, cuddles, sleeping in the back of the car on a deserted beach, playing guitar and jamming with friends, the night sky, forest walks, heart-to -hearts with my kids, heart-to-hearts with my partner, climbing mountains and drawing with my kids, Yoga, cold-ocean-swimming followed by campfire and hot porridge, watching the winter sun rise over the ocean with the kids and a cup of tea, botanical art classes, champagne in the spa, hot cross buns, camping, learning to play magic cards with the boys, Mum moving closer, being gifted an electric guitar, legs and arms that work, running water, kofta balls, love notes.

Are the little things enough?

I know friends who had years much more challenging and sucky than mine. Friends who went through life-threatening health issues and surgery. Friends who got divorced, lost money, lost jobs, lost loved ones. Friends who thought about ending it all.

So when life feels like that, isn’t being told to enjoy the little things a little irritating?

When I’m in the midst of extreme challenges, processing grief or simply sliding down the self-hatred spiral, and someone vomits an affirmation in my direction, I don’t find it uplifting or inspiring. It just makes me want to slap them.

Yes, there it is, annoyingly candy-coated, but…

… it is the little things that matter most, and yes, they are enough.

Buddhist nun Tenzin Palmo says the problem with life is that we believe there should be no problems. But did you ever hear of anyone ever with no problems?

Did you ever have a year that didn’t suck majorly some of the time?

The cold, hard, truth is, life is going to suck, this year is going to suck at times, today might suck. This year might be even worse than last year. Some really big, bad, challenging shit might be on its way.

But you can look that sucker in the face and say bring it on, ’cause I’ve got the little things and they are what really matter.

So if you haven’t already done so, take some time today to make a list of all the little things that made last year great.

And this year:

1. Keep a journal (you’ll be surprised how much you forgot)

2. Write love notes (to everyone and anyone)

3. Learn to love problems

4. And failing all else, eat kofta balls. They make everything okay.

***

LeonieOrtonLeonie Orton is a blogger who writes intimate stories about life. She is also a freelance copywriter and editor working with people and businesses that make the world a better place. She’s also a mother, flower-loving, get-her-hands-dirty-veggie-gardening, coffee-drinking, Yoga-teaching, sometimes swearing, adventurous and passionate woman of too many words. You can get in touch with her via her website and Facebook, or sign up at her weekly(ish) blog.

***

{Join us on FacebookTwitterInstagram & Pinterest}

 

Author information

Rebelle Society

Rebelle Society is a unique, revolutionary online magazine reporting daily acts of Creative Rebellion and celebrating the Art of Being Alive. Rebelle Society is also a virtual country for all creatively maladjusted rebels with a cause, trying to lead an extraordinary life and inspire the world with their passion. Join us on Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for daily bites of Creative Rebellion. Join our Rebelle Insider List along with over 40k Dreamers & Doers around the world for FREE creative resources, news & inspiration in the comfort of your inbox.

The post The Little Things in Life Are the Biggest Ones. appeared first on Rebelle Society.

Scramble Is On To Care For Kids If Insurance Coverage Lapses

npr:

Dr. Mahendra Patel, a pediatric cancer doctor, has begun giving away medications to some of his young patients, determined not to disrupt their treatments for serious illnesses like leukemia. He’s worried Congress will fail to renew funding soon for a health program that pays for the care of millions of children across the country.

In his 35 years of practice, Patel, of San Antonio, has seen the lengths to which parents will go for their critically ill children. He has seen couples divorce just to qualify for Medicaid coverage, something he fears will happen if the Children’s Health Insurance Program is axed. “They are looking at you and begging for their child’s life,” he said.

The months-long failure on Capitol Hill to pass a long-term extension to CHIP, which provides health coverage to 9 million lower-income children, portends serious health consequences for many of them.

About 1.7 million children in 20 states and the District of Columbia could be at risk of losing their CHIP coverage in February because of the funding shortfall, according to a report released Wednesday by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

Continue reading

Why America Needs a Progressive Democratic Party

When the extreme right controls the government, calls that salvation can only come from the extreme left… feed more victories for the extreme right. Next a call for extreme moderates? Forget just trying to make things work and being fair – gotta grind your opponents into the dust! Progressive Democratic Party

Progressive Democratic PartyI’ve been less than enthusiastic about the Democratic Party since the days Bill Clinton served as president. That’s an odd admission for a registered Democrat and a kid who grew up supporting the Party. What’s more, my reticence was a gut reaction initially, and nothing more.

Today I know why I reacted as I did. But the underlying reason why I felt that way years ago is still in play. America needs a strongly positioned, mainstream progressive party—a party that’s different in kind—not degree—from the Republicans.

That’s not happening. Worse yet, it hasn’t happened for decades.

Clinton’s policies on incarceration and welfare punished African Americans. Obama’s defense policies were drawn from Bush’s hymnal. And the current “resist and oppose” movement is more about Trump than about advancing progressive policies.

“There are three generations of neoliberals in play now,” a colleague wrote me recently, “the first generation of which was born in the 1960s.”

Over time, the Democratic mainstream has become more neoliberal and less progressive. Bill Clinton showed the way. Many Dems followed willingly and, since then, they’ve “kept the party going.”

He’s spot-on. Over time, the Democratic mainstream has become more neoliberal and less progressive. Bill Clinton showed the way. Many Dems followed willingly and, since then, they’ve “kept the party going.”

What I’ve just asserted is the theme of a just-published article, Ryan Cooper’s The Decline and Fall of Neoliberalism in the Democratic Party (This Week, January 8, 2018). Cooper predicts that we’re close to the end of a neoliberally-dominated Democratic Party.

In an easy-to-read style, Cooper describes neoliberalism—what it is, how it came into being, and how it has evolved—with special emphasis on its application in the Democratic Party. The treatment includes why “New Deal Democrats” fell from grace, how and why the Reagan Revolution held sway, and—very importantly—how (for the better part of the last three decades) the Democrats have moved more and more to the political center, sometimes to the center-left and (shockingly) at other times to the center-right.

For years that transition wasn’t problematic, at least as many interpreted it. Bill Clinton had economic success as president and Obama addressed the massive economic mess he inherited. But how long would it take to uncover underlying issues? “Incredibly,” Cooper writes, “over and over again during the Obama years the party elite proved itself overly sympathetic to the concerns of the market.”

That didn’t become a political liability for the Democrats because Obama was, as Cooper describes him, “a magnificent political talent, the finest national politician in raw talent since FDR.” As long as Obama remained at head of the party, Cooper asserts, “sheer charisma and moderately good policy record” got him though.

But that record was the record. By the time Obama left The White House, Cooper says, signals were flashing red. “The United States was once again a country which functions mostly on behalf of a tiny capitalist elite,” Cooper writes. “It has the same extreme inequality, the same bloated, crisis-prone financial sector, the same corruption, and the same political backlash to the status quo and rising extremist factions.”

You’d think those would be outcomes of a Republican regime. Ironically, it set the stage for one. Enter Populist Trump.

During the campaign, Hillary had trouble responding to Trump via the power of personality as Obama would have been able to do. And, worse yet, for many voters Hillary represented ills that were becoming obvious and several factors that people believed contributed to the slide. “Virtually handpicked by the party elite,” Cooper writes, “and promising to continue and build on the accomplishments of Obama — (Clinton) was the candidate of Democratic Party neoliberalism, for better and worse.”

And it was far worse.

What strikes me today is why so many Democrats still resist moving to the Progressive left. I don’t see that possibility in political terms only. I also see it as a matter of gigantic need.

I follow the OECD (Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development) analyses of the world’s 35 industrialized countries. Among those peers, America’s standing over time has moved down over time—significantly and often shockingly so. Democrats should be all over the downward trend, but they’re not—except for the Progressive few.

Consider news released just a few days ago. One headline read, “Why the United States is ‘the most dangerous of wealthy nations for a child to be born into‘” Why? The infant mortality rate in this country (2001-2010) was 76% higher than the rate among the 19 richest countries in the world.

That’s an intolerable outcome. The Republicans aren’t going to address it. The Democrats aren’t making it a priority, even though they should.

A Progressive Democratic Party would.

Frank Fear

The post Why America Needs a Progressive Democratic Party appeared first on LA Progressive.

Walmart quietly lays off thousands of workers after bonus announcement

Stay awake! Walmart quietly lays off thousands of workers after bonus announcement:

drst:

rcmmacgregor:

tumblr_inline_p2f5eu9WUZ1rc9268_540.jpg

Thursday morning, Walmart had a flashy announcement: Thanks to corporate tax cuts, it was giving its employees bonuses of up to $1,000. Walmart and President Trump pointed to the announcement as proof that the corporate tax cuts are really a boon to working-class Americans.

Great news, as a result of our TAX CUTS & JOBS ACT! http://pic.twitter.com/SLvhLxP3Jl

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2018

This announcement, as ThinkProgress reported earlier, was much more complicated than it first sounds.

Walmart employees are eligible for the $1,000 bonus only if they’ve worked at the company for 20 years. Most Walmart employees, of course, haven’t worked there that long. Those employees will receive a smaller bonus based on seniority. Walmart didn’t explain exactly how the sliding scale will work but said the total value of the bonuses will be $400 million. Walmart has about 2.1 million employees, which works out to be an average bonus of about $190.

The one-time bonus Walmart announced this morning amounts to just over 2 percent of the total value of the tax cut to the company.

In the fiscal year 2017, Walmart had pre-tax profits of about $20.5 billion and paid an effective federal tax rate of around 30 percent. With a new corporate tax rate of 21 percent, the corporate tax cut is worth at least $1.85 billion to Walmart every year. Since this cut is permanent, the true benefits to Walmart will grow much larger over time. But it’s safe to say that, over 10 years, this corporate tax cut will be worth over $18 billion to Walmart.

But now it appears the announcement was timed carefully to cover for thousands of unannounced layoffs.

Business Insider reports that today, Walmart is abruptly closing numerous Sam’s Clubs stores across the United States. In some cases “employees were not informed of the closures prior to showing up to work on Thursday” and “learned that their store would be closing when they found the store’s doors locked and a notice announcing the closure.”

Sam’s Club shutdown? Employees at this S Loop store tell me they showed up to work and were told store is closed effective today. Sign on door says the same thing. Hearing other stores also affected. Waiting for answers from parent company, Walmart #khou11 http://pic.twitter.com/RtbY7EhiIK

— Jason Miles (@JMilesKHOU) January 11, 2018

Walmart confirmed the abrupt closings and offered an explanation of sorts on Twitter. “Closing clubs is never easy,” the company said through its verified corporate account.

After a thorough review of our existing portfolio, we’ve decided to close a series of clubs and better align our locations with our strategy. Closing clubs is never easy and we’re committed to working with impacted members and associates through this transition.

— Sam’s Club (@SamsClub) January 11, 2018

Business Insider identified at least 68 stores across the country that closed today. Three of the stores are located in Hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico. More stores are slated to be closed in the coming days.

Walmart’s behavior is part of a pattern of corporate misdirection related to the GOP tax cuts. AT&T and Comcast both announced bonuses for their employees while also laying off thousands.


While Trump talks about a “jobs boom,” job growth was slower in 2017 than in any year since 2010.

MULTIPLE OTHER COMPANIES HAVE DONE THIS AS WELL INCLUDING COMCAST AND AT&T.

Hollywood’s Upcoming Movie “Beirut” Checks Off Every American Stereotype About Lebanon

A movie filmed in Morocco, with no Lebanese cast, with no Lebanese input, with no Lebanese insight – and named after the capital city of a country, while it makes sure to perpetuate the exact notion believed by the people in the country where this movie will most advertise itself.

Representation matters. And this is most important at a time when some creature like Trump is president, a creature that believes any country that is not European is a shithole, and every immigrant from a country that isn’t Norway and friends is a disgrace to his country. In the movie, Beirut, the notion that Arabs are people that exist in an endless circle of violence is perpetuated once more, whilst ticking off every white American’s notion of orientalist Middle Eastern realities. Even the tag line of the movie is “2000 years of revenge, vendetta, murder. Welcome to Beirut.”

img_1203-1.jpg?w=740

The trailer for Jon Hamm’s latest movie, titled Beirut, and produced by Bleeker Street, was released yesterday. The movie, set in 1982, tells the story of an American officer who finds himself back in Beirut 10 years after his family was killed there to save a friend of his who works in his the CIA after he was kidnapped by some Islamic terrorist organization.

In theory, and the fact that the movie is written by the same people behind The Bourne trilogy, this sounds like something that could be fun. Except, once again, an American Hollywood studio decides to whitewash the civil war of a city, and turn its entire struggles about the past and hardships of a white man, who is out of place among the savages he’s forced to exist with.

Here is the trailer:

A Qandahar-esque city ravaged by war: check.

Oriental music with no clear of origin: check.

English spoken like only Americans think terrorists speak English: check.

Mosques on the silhouette of every city shot: check.

Brown kids running around with guns: check.

A terrorist Islamic organization that doesn’t actually exist: check.

The movie not only omits any Lebanese presence in it, but bends the history of the country and of the era that it portrays to make it conform with exactly what Americans think of the city and of the political factors at play. Suddenly, the Israelis are the knights on shining armor trying to save Beirut from its own people, while white Americans roll in to save the day once more.

Those Arabs in the movie? Barbaric savages. Their cities and where they live? Hellholes. Their entire lives? Reduced to kids running around cars with plastic guns.

A movie filmed in Morocco, with no Lebanese cast, with no Lebanese input, with no Lebanese insight – and named after the capital city of a country, while it makes sure to perpetuate the exact notion believed by the people in the country where this movie will most advertise itself.

Representation matters. And this is most important at a time when some creature like Trump is president, a creature that believes any country that is not European is a shithole, and every immigrant from a country that isn’t Norway and friends is a disgrace to his country. In the movie, Beirut, the notion that Arabs are people that exist in an endless circle of violence is perpetuated once more, whilst ticking off every white American’s notion of orientalist Middle Eastern realities. Even the tag line of the movie is “2000 years of revenge, vendetta, murder. Welcome to Beirut.”

Did anyone tell these people that revenge and vendetta are the same thing? Or that the 2000+ year history of Beirut is not about revenge, vendetta and murder, but that a city older than the oldest entity in their country is not summarized by what they think is true of it.

What’s worse is that you’d never find a Hollywood movie, say, that is set in New York portray nothing relevant to the city and be named after it. You’d never find a movie set in any “white” European city negatively portray that city as a terrorist infected haven. Instead, all portrayal tries to stay as respectful as possible to the history of the place they’re showing on screen.

We do not get that courtesy.

I don’t know how Beirut looked in 1982. I was not born back then. But my parents were alive and well back then, and this is not the city they knew. Even in its war-torn buildings, and its own struggles. Even our airport back in the 80’s didn’t look the way it was portrayed in that movie’s trailer. They can’t even afford us historical accuracy – but what do you expect from producers who think all Middle Eastern countries are the same, and that filming a movie in Morocco to portray a city thousands of miles away is fair enough and accurate.

The worst part about the movie is that this is an American take on the Lebanese Civil War – to a certain extent at least – while the war itself had nothing to do with them. And then the release date of the movie is set to coincide with the 43rd anniversary of the Lebanese Civil War, on April 13th.

Dear Hollywood, I understand you have a growing need to be “woke” these days, but being “woke” also involves being aware that other people’s countries and cities are not free reign for you to appropriate into movies whose only purpose is to further perpetuate what you believe is true about those places and those people, as well as fill your pockets with money at their expense.

I, for one, will be boycotting this movie when it’s released, and I invite every Lebanese to do the same. Using our capital but filming somewhere else, using our people but using other nationalities, using our heritage but using other languages, accents and music, and white-washing our entire struggles to fit into the cute boxes that would never oppose the notions of the typical American movie goer, while reinforcing what they think of us, is not okay.

Who speaks for the Fatemiyoun?

BBC Persian made a splash when it reported last week that about 2,000 Afghans had died in Syria fighting on behalf of Assad as part of the Fatemiyoun Brigade, a proxy militia organized by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. The number, an outdated figure whose accuracy we might discuss in a different blog post, was attributed to a Fatemiyoun “cultural official,” a man named Sayed Zuhair Mujahed.

Who is this Mujahed? Is he really a Fatemiyoun “official”?

The short answer is that he appears to be too outspoken to hold a formal post with the tightly run Fatemiyoun ship, though he has served with the outfit in Syria and still maintains an association with it, which allows him to speak informally for the group and its fighters.

In Fatemiyoun parlance, “cultural” activities include three broad functions:

  • Public relations for the group: Includes public statements, producing propaganda films and songs, documenting the war in photos and video, etc.;
  • Services for active-duty fighters: Includes organizing religious events at regional bases in Syria, organizing tours for singers of religious songs to the frontline, managing commemoration ceremonies of Shiite imams, etc.; and
  • Services for dead and out-of-commission fighters: Includes managing burial ceremonies for fighters, holding anniversaries for dead commanders and events for fighters’ families.

The current cultural deputy for Fatemiyoun is an Iranian cleric called Hojjat Ganabadinezhad, a cleric who is a key member of Astan-e Qods-e Razavi, the powerful charitable trust headed by Ibrahim Raisi, the hardline cleric and politician who is a member of the Assembly of Experts and ran against Rouhani in the 2017 elections. The trust manages the Imam Reza shrine, Iran’s most revered Shia holy site.

Sayed Zuhair Mujahed, on the other hand, is a 34-year-old Iran-born junior cleric of Afghan heritage who served in the Fatemiyoun in Syria, most likely in a cultural role. Although he was born, raised and educated in Iran, the Iranian media still refers to him as an Afghan. And Mujahed has embraced this role, carving his niche as a pro-Afghan, pro-Fatemiyoun spokesperson and advocate in Iranian media.

Sayed Zuhair Mujahed's selfie in Tehran

Sayed Zuhair Mujahed takes a selfie in Tehran

Mujahed refers to himself as a “preacher” and is still a student at a seminary in Mashhad, where he also speaks to the media on Fatemiyoun and Afghan issues.

Mujahed has complained about the mistreatment of Afghans in Iran and how Fatemiyoun veterans and their families are sometimes not given their due. In December 2017, he appeared on a live show alongside Nader Talebzadeh, a TV personality and conservative activist, to criticize Iranian conservatives and conservative media for not doing enough to recognize the sacrifices of Fatemiyoun fighters. In a Facebook post, he recalls the producer reprimanding him for his remarks.

In another social media post, he criticizes Iran’s censorship of books after seeing differences between Afghan and Iranian translations of Zalmay Khalilzad’s book, The Envoy:

I’m reading a PDF translation of the book by [Afghan journalist] Harun Najafizada. Today, I went to a bookstall in Mashhad to buy the book [in hard copy] and only found the translation by Mustafa Ahmadi, which had been corrected. I felt very sorry after reading the two translations. In today’s open world, why are some [quarters] hesitant even about quoting a writer?

There are numerous other instances where his interviews and social media posts indicate a lack of message discipline, deviating from the standard IRGC/Fatemiyoun line. This indicates that although he may still maintain an association with the Fatemiyoun after his Syria tour, he probably does not hold an official post.

However, some outlets, such as conservative-leaning Tasnim News, have identified him as “the designated successor to Fatemiyoun’s cultural deputy.” But Tasnim has also referred to him simply as “an Afghan cleric.” Most recently, Tasnim published his statement disavowing any formal association with the Fatemiyoun after BBC Persian identified him as a Fatemiyoun official.

It is possible that his tour with the Fatemiyoun in Syria and his continued association with Fatemiyoun families have blurred the lines about his actual role, causing some confusion in the media. After all, he can be seen at a lot of Fatemiyoun cultural events in Iran, including at burials, commemorations and events for Fatemiyoun families. These appearances fit within his role as a cleric because clerics are expected to officiate, perform rituals and lead prayers.

But the Fatemiyoun runs a tightly PR coordinated operation. Authorized messages echo across various social and traditional media outlets. Statements often appear verbatim in various media outlets to ensure accuracy. As a lifelong resident of Iran and a cleric, Mujahed probably enjoys some leeway in speaking his mind, but his free-wheeling style hardly squares with Fatemiyoun’s highly scripted approach to PR.